Saturday, October 30, 2010

Meaningless Rituals

Happy Samhain!

There was a time that I felt a certain sanguinity about pagan customs that we follow today. I felt as if The Man couldn't totally stomp us out, that we would prevail, if only through stubbornness.

I was amazed when a Nigerian co-worker said something and then "knocked on wood". Wow. An ancient custom which survived the annihilation of it's original followers, transplanted to another whole people. Cool?

Not so much.

Two of my co-workers claim Trail of Tears ancestry. Why the hell would the Trail of Tears even go through Southern Illinois? Hello - people from the Deep South, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, going to Oklahoma, for some reason strolling through Southern Illinois? But it's true - they did go here, herded on the death trail by pre-Blackwater mercenaries.

Here's the way one of my co-workers describes her great-great-grandmother - she was a toddler whose mother died on the Trail of Tears and "they" left her by her mother's body, where she was found crying by a Christian minister and his wife, who adopted and raised her. She was Indian, but became Christian and spoke English, and married a white man, so she was OK.

Who was this "they" that abandoned the toddler? My co-worker blames the other Indians, but people being herded by mercenaries are not exactly free to follow their traditional practices. Her emphasis on her ancestor speaking English and being Christian show the shame that many Native people have been taught since the genocide. Those who assimilated frequently show shame for their ancestry.

So what about me? I know that my Dad was born in Northern England. I know that many of England's invaders came from the mainland, invading the South, pushing the original inhabitants to the North.

Who am I descended from? I don't even know. Am I a descendant of the Druids, pushed to the North, and forced into Christianity? Or a descendant of the invaders, whether Norse, or Saxon, or Franco, or Roman, or whatever?

Here we are, on Halloween, still acting out the old customs, long after the original practitioners were murdered and tortured into submission. Dressing up in scary costumes, lighting fires, going door to door, all meaningless rituals, still being played out, but without purpose.

And three days from now, we do it again, on "Election Day".

Candidates give speeches, news reporters remark upon them, people go to the polls and make a mark for who they choose to represent them.

But it's all meaningless ritual. Speeches are now soundbites, reporting is superficial, and voting machines make the marks totally divorced from tallies. No more ballot box stuffing, it's as easy as pushing a button and getting the result preordained!

But we all pretend that our rituals have meaning, especially the voting one.

Celebrities encourage us, statesmen exhort us, TV pushes voting continually.

Tellingly, they never tell us who to vote for. THEY DON'T CARE!

It's the turnout that legitimizes their system. That's all they care about, here and abroad, if you notice the "news" coverage of other elections. A big turnout, a purple-fingered groundswell, that 's what they like. That's why the 2004 election, with people waiting 9 hours to vote for Kerry, was considered a "triumph of democracy", even though the person they stood in line to vote for had the election stolen from him. Not that he fought at all, of course, conceding before the votes were even counted.

But even that no longer matters. They no longer announce exit poll results. They can simply declare that x amount of people voted, and they voted in a particular way.

Who's going to know any different?

Billions of dollars are being spent for these elections. Why? All they have to do is announce the pre-determined results.

But where does that money go? To the corporate media.

Election ads are really media buy-off ads.

Elections are to the media as Christmas is to retail stores. They need that money. And the money buys their submission.

We are participating in something as meaningless to us as knocking on wood is to a Nigerian. As meaningless as a child dressed as a ghost. But much more harmful.

American adults who go to the polls and press a touch screen button for a pre-screened, corporate-approved candidate have as much relation to true democracy, in which people participate in the decisions that affect their lives, as American children, dressed in Disney-trademark costumes created by child labor in some third world country, going door to door to get factory wrapped candy, have to their pagan ancestors honoring the end of summer and those who had passed to the other world.












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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Farce We Call Elections

There are many different opinions on what to do about our oligarchy.

It is very clear that the biannual farce that we are all urged to participate in is meaningless, rigged, and, since the imposition of the voting machines, totally unreliable. Who knows how many really vote, or who they vote for?

However, we have the forms of democracy, even though they are hollow.

Greens choose to use those forms, as if they meant something, to present our ideas to the citizenry.

This apparently is a threat to our ruling overlords, because they exclude Greens from forums in which they could actually present their program to citizens.

Last night, Laura Wells, the Green Party candidate for governor of California, was arrested for trying to use her ticket to get into the debate from which she was excluded!

And Huffington Post has an article on the exclusion of Rich Whitney from the debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters.

Here's my comment on the article, discussing the LWV betraying their stated principles by agreeing to the banning of the Green Party candidate-

30 years of right wing propaganda has an effect.
The League of Women Voters, supposedly a non-partisan group, now offends democratic principles by banning Rich Whitney from the debates.
Have they no shame?
They need to change their platform to match their actions. No more bragging about their non-partisan stance. How about this?-
"The League of Women Voters stands with the corporate media to make sure that American voters only hear from the two corporate parties. We have no interest in educating the American voter. We will use the respect we have earned over the decades to fool the voters into thinking that we have an interest in free and fair elections, while, behind the scenes, we scheme with corporate media to ban and exclude those candidates that threaten the oligarchy".
I think that this statement of "principle" is more accurate than the current, outdated one they profess.



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Monday, October 4, 2010

Jobs and Justice March

On Saturday, tens of thousands of people showed up in Washington, DC to "demand" jobs.

Yeah. How's that working out for you?

Actually, it turned out to be a get-out-the-vote for the Democrats. Republicans were scorned for their repressive values, their I've-got-mine-screw-you economic principles and their constant conjuring of fear, nameless, faceless terror, orange alert Muslims are coming fear!!!

Look out! It's Sarah Palin! Run for your life! And vote Democrat!

But even the job demanding is a ridiculous exercise.

We workers have no standing to demand jobs. We are pathetic beggars, kneeling before our masters and petitioning for a means to live. They can afford to sneer at our pleas, because as long as we limit ourselves to believing that we must sell our labor power to get money to buy us things, we will NEVER be a threat enough to them that they would supply us with such means.

There are 300 million people in this country, and almost 7 billion people on this planet.

It is absurd to believe that we need that much 40 hour/week labor. We need less labor all the time. (Although when the oil runs out that will change.)

But there has been a surplus of labor in class-divided society for centuries, even before capitalism. We are told that part of the reason for the Crusades was to get rid of some surplus people. The Black Death, which killed off 1/3 of Europe, was a boon to workers, driving up the price of labor, until we reproduced enough to drive down our wages again.

The Americas, Australia and South Africa used to provide a place for surplus European labor to immigrate.

We now have a super abundance, more than we need, all produced with very little labor.

The only way to have everyone employed is for everyone to work fewer hours. When I bring this up to people, they invariably say "But I couldn't afford to work less hours!"

Well, no, not on the wages we are getting now! Obviously, if everyone worked fewer hours, and we produced enough for everyone, then the proceeds of your labor would be worth more than it is now.

In other words, we all pitch in to produce enough for everyone, and then everyone has enough.

The people who suck the profits from the proceeds now would no longer be allowed to do that. Yes, the masters who sneer now while they lay off people for profit would be demoted.

They would have to work like everyone else, and be entitled to a modest, decent standard of living, like the rest of us.

Because if you restrict yourself to calling for "jobs", you get the military-industrial complex, the prison-industrial complex, Homeland Security, Big Box stores, McMansions covering farmland, endless road-building, and the rest of the environment-destroying economy that we live under.




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